Modeling Passive Solar Homes

Modeling Passive Solar Homes Photo Credit: By Department of Energy Solar Decathlon (CC BY-ND 2.0) via flickr.


Architects use models for various reasons. Models allow architects to see how a building will look on the building site. They allow for modifications to be made to the designs and they allow for more creativity in the design process. Use the resources on this sheet to help you explore architectural models.


Begin by going to Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Foamcore House to see how an architectural model can be built. As you watch this video, answer these questions on your Modeling Passive Solar Homes student sheet:

  • What was the reason that Adam Savage stated for making models of his homes?
  • When, according to Adam, should you change your knife blade?
  • Why are templates for doors and windows used?
  • Adam included some features of the home, but not all features of the home. For example, he included his first workshop in the basement level of his home. Why do you suppose he would include that, but not things like the kitchen cabinets?

For more information about how to make architectural models, go to Building Great Architecture Models. This will give you a great overview of techniques and tools for modeling.

To learn the benefits of using a model rather than just computer renderings, go to On Architectural Models.

After you have gone through both of these resources, answer these questions on your Modeling Passive Solar Homes student sheet:

  • What role do physical architectural models play in the design process? What was common among all of the architectural firms they asked?
  • How do models compare to virtual methods of representing designs?
  • What types of materials did the architects prefer for building their designs?

Now, go to Planner 5D to review the building designs from the last lesson. Discuss the designs with your partner and use the Evaluating Passive Solar Design student sheet to help you pick one to use for making your model.

This esheet is a part of the Modeling Passive Solar Homes lesson.

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Esheet Details

Grades Project 2061 Benchmarks National Science Standards